Brussels sprouts. They used to be the “ewww” of the vegetable family, eliciting cries of “Please, no! We’ll eat anything else!” as soon as that bowl filled with bitter, cabbag-y stuff was in sight and approaching the dinner table. But yesterday’s Brussels sprouts have nothing on the roasted, shaved, charred, crispy, and fried variations today. The harsh taste: gone. So, too, is the curious, off-putting texture. The versatile vegetable that originated in Europe (which explains why they appear on so many French and Italian menus) has gone from no-go to go-to for many former haters—some of whom now run their own acclaimed restaurants that showcase Brussels sprouts in a way you may not have expected, and definitely won’t forget. We scoured the state for some favorite dishes.
This modern American bistro has been voted among the Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants by the San Francisco Chronicle for the past six years, no doubt due to dishes like their Crispy Brussels Sprout Chips with lemon and sea salt.
Celebrity chef Michael Chiarello owns this popular Yountville eatery, with a menu full of tasty rustic Italian dishes and local wines, and an equal number of accolades (Best Newcomer by Zagat, Top 10 by Forbes, Top 20 by Esquire, and Top 100 Bay Area). Fill the table with savory meats and rich pasta, but don’t forget an order of Fennel-Spiced and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Dining at lunchtime? The Insalata di Cavolini di Bruxelles or Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with whole Meyer lemon dressing, Marcona almonds, sieved egg, and Pecorino is legendary.
The Lark bills itself as “a shared dining experience featuring artisanal and seasonal ingredients celebrating the bounty of the central coast.” The only problem? You won’t want to do any sharing when you order their Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Medjool dates, garum fish sauce, serrano chile, sesame, and lime.
Republique, housed in the 1928 landmark structure first built for Charlie Chaplin and the former home of famed restaurant Campanile, is as well-known for its atmosphere as it is for its food. Choose the Kimchi Fried Rice, and you’ll get to enjoy a multi-layered dish with roasted Brussels sprouts, pickled daikon radish, and soft egg.
Craft beer and “crafty food” sounds like a great combo, and it is…especially when it comes to Beer Belly’s Brussels Sprouts, a dish that combines the vegetable with pancetta, gala apples, and onions.
This vegan eatery started as a food truck and now has two popular brick-and-mortar locations (another is in Long Beach). If you’re wondering whether vegans do it better when it comes to veg, well…come for the Burnt Brussels Sprouts with lime, Dijon, cayenne, and fried garlic, and see for yourself.
Bali Hai Restaurant
Brussel sprouts may not scream “Polynesian food” to you, but you’ll scream for these Polynesian Brussel sprouts at Bali Hai that combine Thai flavorings with Chinese sausage. Plus, the restaurant’s Shelter Island setting will make you feel like you’re on vacation…if only for one meal.